The earthquake and resulting tsunami that
swept over thousands of miles from Sumatra to East Africa
in the last week of 2004 killed an estimated 150,000 people
-- the death toll keeps rising -- and remade the coasts
of the Asian subcontinent. The dead were from some dozen
countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Thailand -- 80,000
in Indonesia alone. And from each of these countries,
there were immigrants
in New York City, who tried to contact friends and
family, worried about them, mourned their loss -- and
relief efforts on their behalf.
The catastrophe ended a year that had
begun with great hope. Nobody knows what's going to
happen this year, but immigrants begin 2005 with far less
hope than 2004.
A year ago President George W. Bush announced a guest
worker program that would allow undocumented immigrants
to work and live in the country legally, a plan that
a year later, has gone nowhere.
What has happened is a
rise in deportations with nearly 13,000 illegal immigrants
registration program being issued notices
to leave the country (NY
Times). Some have already
been deported but many others are filing appeals.
The number of appeals has risen by nearly
1,000 percent after special registration.
In New York federal court, there are
at least 4,000 immigration appeals waiting. In December
the U.S. Department
of Justice had to order hundreds
lawyers in Washington and around the country to
take on immigration cases as part of an emergency effort
to clear a large backlog in the New York federal
In this January edition
of The Citizen, we take a look at the major immigrant-related stories of 2004,and some minor ones as well, culled
from the Bengali, Chinese,
Spanish-language and Urdu press via our partner,
Must Be Heard.